On Thursday I took part in a Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) ward walkround at the Royal Infirmary. There's a planned schedule of visits each month and non Exec NHS Board members are expected to participate as often as possible. It's designed to allow staff and patients to provide feedback on patient safety matters or any other issues. It's also invaluable to me as it provides a fantastic insight into the daily lives of health workers at the front line delivering a vital service. There's also a wide range of services and facilities that are visited and this time it was the Cardiology unit at the Royal (wards 103 and 114, I think). Unfortunately, my other two colleagues had to cancel at short notice which left me as the sole Board representative, however that meant I had some quality time with several members of the staff team and we had a really good chat about numerous issues and the challenges that they face. I was then given a tour of the unit, extremely impressive, professional and bristling with all types of technology that are used to support people who have suffered heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. They are world leaders at early diagnosis and medical interventions (they have a 90 minute target time from the first call from the ambulance) and bags of experience in dealing with high numbers of patients and a steady turnover of admissions and discharges. My thanks to Ann, Pat, Simon and their teams for being so helpful. We often see negative headlines in the media in relation to health care so it was great to see such an important unit providing excellent service with dedicated staff, operating at optimum level.
Yesterday I was at the Edinburgh Labour conference on Local Government Finance. More interesting than you might think... Then off to catch the second half at Tynecastle and while we slumped to another disappointing defeat, this week did at least see the emergence of Ann Budge as the potential saviour of Hearts, until a fans buyout can be delivered. There is light at the end of the tunnel, although to be honest, it's a very long tunnel !